You feel the chill in the air and know that winter is on its way. As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, it’s time to start thinking about how to prepare your car for winter.
From making sure your battery is in good condition to installing paint protection, there are a few things you can do to get your car ready for the colder months.
Plus, we'll answer some common questions about car care you might have. Keep reading for car care tips on how to prepare your car for winter!
What happens to cars in winter?
In case you're wondering, cars don't necessarily hibernate in winter. However, the cold weather can have an impact on your car and how it functions. If left unaddressed, these problems can lead to car trouble down the road.
Here are some of the things that can happen to your car in winter:
- The battery loses power and won't start the car
- The oil thickens and doesn't lubricate the engine as well
- Tires lose pressure and traction
- Windshield wipers freeze to the windshield
- The car paint fades and becomes dull
How do you prepare your car for the winter?
Now that you know what can happen to your car in winter, let's take a look at how you can prepare it for the harsh weather. With a little car care, you can make sure your car is in good condition and ready to take on whatever winter throws its way.
Here are some tips on how to prepare your car for winter:
1. Check the battery.
One of the first things you should do is check your car battery. Cold weather can cause the battery to lose power and not start the car.
To avoid this, have your car battery tested before winter starts. If it's more than three years old, you might need to replace it. Once you've checked the battery, make sure the car battery terminals are clean.
A build-up of dirt and grime can prevent the battery from starting the car. Make sure it's protected for the winter by:
- Checking the car battery terminals and cleaning them if necessary
- Coating them with petroleum jelly to prevent corrosion
2. Inspect the tires.
Tires are an important part of car care, especially in winter. The cold weather can cause the tire pressure to drop, which can impact the car's handling and performance. To avoid this, check your car's tire pressure before winter starts.
- You can find the recommended tire pressure for your car in the owner's manual. Once you know the correct tire pressure, use a tire pressure gauge to make sure the tires are inflated to that level.
An extra tip is to inspect the tread on your tires. The tread is the part of the tire that comes into contact with the road. It provides traction and helps prevent the car from slipping and sliding in winter weather.
You can check the tread on your tires by doing the penny test. Take a penny and insert it into the tread, with Lincoln's head facing down. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, the tread is worn and you need new tires.
3. Change the oil.
Before the cold weather hits, it's a good idea to change the car's oil. The oil gets thicker in winter and doesn't lubricate the engine as well. This can lead to car trouble down the road.
To avoid this, change the car's oil before winter starts. You can find the recommended type of oil for your car in your owner's manual. As the winter season rolls around, make sure to check the car's oil level regularly.
4. Stock up on supplies.
In case you get stranded in the cold weather, it's a good idea to have some car care supplies on hand. Here are some items you should consider keeping in your car:
- An ice scraper
- A first-aid kit
- A blanket
- Jumper cables
Make sure your supplies are easily accessible in case you need them in an emergency. For example, keep the ice scraper in the glove compartment and the blanket in the trunk.
5. Protect your car's paint.
The cold, dry weather can take a toll on your car's paint causing it to fade and become dull. To protect your car's paint, wash it regularly and wax it before winter starts.
If you want to take it a step further, consider investing in paint protection film or ceramic coating. These products create a barrier between the car's paint and the elements, preventing winter weather from damaging the paint.
If you don't plan on using your car much in the winter, you can store it in a garage or use a car cover to protect it from the elements. Here are some more ways to protect your car's paint.
6. Check the car's fluid levels.
Another important part of car care is making sure the car's fluid levels are topped off. This includes the windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant.
Topping off these fluids will help prevent car trouble in the winter. Make sure to check the car's owner manual to find out how much fluid you need and where to add it. Check out 10 Tips to preserve your car to learn more.
7. Get a winter car care kit.
A winter car care kit is a great way to make sure your car is prepared for the cold weather. These kits typically include items like an ice scraper, tire pressure gauge, and car emergency flares.
You can find winter car care kits at most auto parts stores. Or, you can put one together yourself using the items on this list:
- Ice scraper
- Tire pressure gauge
- Windshield washer fluid
- Car emergency flares
- First-aid kit
- Jumper cables (check out how to jump start a car)
Q: How often should I wash my car in winter?
A: It's a good idea to wash your car at least once a month during the winter. The cold weather can take a toll on your car's paint, so washing it regularly will help keep it looking its best.
Q: Should I wax my car in winter?
A: Yes, it's a good idea to wax your car before winter starts. Waxing creates a barrier between the car's paint and the elements, preventing winter weather from damaging the paint.
Q: How often should I check my car's oil in winter?
A: You should check your car's oil level at least once a month during the winter. The oil gets thicker in winter and can lead to car trouble if it's not kept at the proper level.
Q: What should I do if my car breaks down in winter?
A: If your car breaks down in winter, the first thing you should do is call for help. If you have a roadside assistance plan, call them and they will help you get your car to a safe location. If you don't have roadside assistance, call a tow truck to take your car to the nearest service station.
Q: Should I store my car in a garage in winter?
A: If you can, yes. Storing your car in a garage will protect it from the cold weather and help keep it in good condition.
Caring for your car in winter is important to keep it running smoothly and prevent car trouble. After all, no one wants to be stranded in the cold! Follow these car care tips and your car will be ready for whatever winter throws its way.